10 November 2017
By Bryan Smyth
Everyday across Cork thousands of people engage with health and social care professionals. These professionals are a vital part of our health system providing a range of important services such as occupational therapy to the elderly, speech and language therapy, social work or taking x-rays of sports injuries. Up until relatively recently many of Ireland’s health and social care professionals were not regulated.
That has changed in recent years since the establishment of CORU, Ireland’s regulator for health and social care professionals. CORU was established by the Government to regulate these professionals and consequently provide more protection for the public. The professions regulated by CORU include social workers, dietitians, occupational therapists, optometrists, dispensing opticians, physiotherapists, radiographers, radiation therapists and speech and language therapists. In the future Clinical Biochemists; Medical Scientists; Orthoptists; Podiatrists; Psychologists and Social Care Workers will also be regulated by CORU.
Ginny Hanrahan, CEO, CORU explains the role of CORU. “While most people may not think of themselves as a patient/service user of a health or social care professional, many of us will be under their care on occasions throughout our lifetime. So it is important that we protect the public by promoting high standards of professional education, training and competence among registrants of the designated professions.”
“We do this by ensuring that registered practitioners are qualified for their profession, that they meet all registration requirements including Garda vetting and that they adhere to their profession specific Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics”.
“CORU comes from the Irish word Coir, meaning fair, just and proper. These principles underpin all of our work”, added Ms Hanrahan.
Currently, nine professions are regulated by CORU. This means anyone working in these professions must register with CORU in order to be able to use their professional title. Someone calling themselves a Dietitian, for example, who is not registered with CORU, is breaking the law.
“Registration is hugely important. If you have a problem or do not believe you are receiving the best quality care from your health and social care professional, we will only be able to take action if they are registered with CORU. So we encourage every member of the public to visit www.coru.ie to check if your health and social care professional is registered with us.”
“Thankfully the vast majority of us will have a positive experience, the quality of care and professionalism in Ireland is exemplary. However if there are ever serious concerns about a health and social care professional’s practice or behaviour we can investigate this through our fitness to practise process. If we find an individual has not met our standards, we may take action. In the most serious cases, we can stop a professional from practising.”
Today there are over 12,000 professionals registered with CORU and this will grow to over 30,000 when all the professional registers are opened.
“These professionals are making a very important commitment to operate to the highest standards and to deliver safe care to their clients and patients. We are delighted to now have over 12,000 professionals nationwide and 1,279 from Cork, registered with us. This sends a powerful message to patients about the quality and consistency of care they can expect” said Ms. Hanrahan.
Part of the CORU process involves submitting certified copies of qualifications, and signing a Statutory Declaration. That can be performed by a Cork Commissioner for Oaths.